Walking Guide

What to Eat This Summer

No one wants to spend hours planning menus, making countless trips to the grocery store and slaving in the kitchen, only to endure dull and tasteless food. If you want to eat healthy, home-cooked meals without all the fuss, try a seasonal pantry makeover. To do it, stock up on locally-grown foods, and simply create meals based on what's in season in your region. Eating locally is delicious, nutritious, interesting and, believe it or not, easy. Local food tastes better because it really is fresh (not shipped-from-across-the-country-yet-still-bearing-a-label-that-says-fresh).

It's healthier for you because you get the higher nutrient levels from just-picked produce. It's healthier for the environment because local food uses less fossil fuel for transport. Seasonal food is also interesting, as each season brings a new crop of foods that you haven't had for an entire year. Before you've had a chance to tire of its bounty, the season changes to bring new, flavorful foods. And shopping for seasonal foods is easy—a fun trip to your local farmer's market will yield the majority of the ingredients you need.

In the US, we enjoy practically unlimited access to any food any time of the year. Although it's nice to have watermelon in February and asparagus in August, many people don't even know that foods have a season, let alone what foods are in season at any given time of year. A quick scan of the offerings at the farmer's market will clear this up in a few seconds, but you may want to start brainstorming recipes beforehand. Availability will vary from region to region, but here's a list of foods that make summer their season, along with tips on how to incorporate the new-to-you ingredients into your meals.

Summer Vegetables
  • Beets. Stem, wash, peel, thinly slice, lightly salt, and toss onto salads. Or roast them for a sweet and simple side dish: In a baking dish, bake clean, unpeeled beets at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until easily pierced with a knife. You can also eat the greens. Just wash, chop, steam for a few minutes, sauté in olive oil until tender, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
  • Broccoli. Broccoli-cheddar soup is always good. Or steam the florets and throw into a whole-grain wrap with barbequed onions (see instructions below), avocado, and sprouts.
  • Cauliflower. Steam and top with butter and a dash of salt.
  • Celery. Pair it with peanut butter for a healthy and satisfying snack. To lure children to try some, make "ants on a log" by placing a few raisins on top of the peanut butter.
  • Cucumbers. Wow your party guests with this one: Slice the cucumber into rounds, and stack with tomatoes, a leaf of basil, and a wedge of fresh mozzarella. Or try cold cucumber soup as an appetizer.
  • Eggplant. This purple plant is great on the grill: Just slice, brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until tender. Make extra and refrigerate the leftovers to use as a pizza topping, on sandwiches, or in soups.
  • Green beans. Fresh green beans are simple to prepare: Clean and snap-off ends. Steam until tender and toss with sautéed onions and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Onions. Try these yummy barbequed onions: Slice onion into rings and sauté them in olive oil until tender. Mix in a few tablespoons of your favorite barbeque sauce. Add barbequed onions to a sandwich or wrap with avocado, lettuce, and shredded chicken for a quick lunch.
  • Peppers. Peppers are delicious when roasted: Slice in half lengthwise, seed, rinse and brush heavily with olive oil. Place skin-side-up on a baking sheet. Smash the peppers to flatten before putting them into a 400 degree oven to roast for 10-20 minutes. Take them out, stack them, and allow them to rest for another 15 minutes. Then peel them by scraping the skin off with a spoon. Eat roasted peppers plain, or add them to salads, pastas, pizzas or sandwiches.
  • Potatoes. Small new potatoes are delicious when simply boiled until tender and topped with grated cheese, plain yogurt, and diced green onions.
  • Summer squash. Slice and sauté in olive oil, and drizzle with soy sauce. Toss with pasta and grated parmesan cheese.
  • Tomatoes. Fresh, raw tomatoes are delicious in salads and as an appetizer: Wash and cut into thick slices. Top each slice with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh basil leaves, and a slice of mozzarella cheese.  
  • Zucchini. Use the suggestions for summer squash, above, or boil them whole until tender, allow to cool somewhat, then cut them in half length-wise and scoop out the pulp. Combine with sautéed onions, whole wheat breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and an egg to hold it together, and stuff the skins. Top with grated cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Summer Fruits
Fruit is always easy. It is ready to eat, and tastes great. But if you're looking for some new ways to incorporate fruit into your menu besides the "grab and bite" technique, try fruit smoothies, fruit cobblers and fruit-topped pancakes and French toast.
  • Apples. Try them baked with sweet potatoes and raisins.
  • Melons. Use a melon baller to give your melons flair when eaten alone or in a summer fruit salad.
  • Peaches. Who can resist peach cobbler? For a healthier spin, use whole grain flour for the crust.
  • Pears. Try pears on the grill. Wash and cook until tender, then sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and enjoy (quickly!) with vanilla ice cream.
  • Plums. Wash their skin and take a bite!
  • Raspberries.  All berries make tasty addition to pancakes, smoothies, yogurt and fruit salads. Try a mixed berry salad, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Strawberries. Buy them by the bushel and freeze to make fresh-tasting smoothies in the winter months. Combined with bananas, orange juice, and yogurt, they make an unbeatable breakfast drink.
Summer Seasonings
If you've done a little cooking, you probably know that the seasonings can make the meal. Here are some seasonal seasonings for your summer suppers.
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Tarragon
If your pantry isn't stocked with the season's tastiest and most nutritious staples, then get yourself to your local farmer's market and add flavor to your meals with the best summer seasonings. To find a farmer's market near you, visit www.localharvest.org, and enjoy the bounty of summer!
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Member Comments

Summer veggies are great! Report
love summer veggies cant wait for the garden to grow Report
Watermelon plz! Report
Love fruits and veggies in the summer. Report
I love summer fruit and veggies Report
Love my veggies!!! Fruits, too.
Peeled cucumber for dinner today - 12 yr. old grandson loves them
Also put tomato wedges and celery sticks on plate.
We eat lots of both vegetables and fruits! Report
ETHELMERZ
No one that I know EVER would be "wowed" by lousy cucumber or celery, fresh from the garden or whatever, just saying their names brings cold chills to the tummy............
... Report
I agree: where is the watermelon?! And where are the BLUEBERRIES????!!
!!!!! I thought blueberries would be front and center on a list of healthy summer fruit & veggies.... Maybe I just live in a heavy blueberry area. Report
Watermelon...not on the list? Report
Loved the article. Great things. Report
My mother used to go the farmer's market every Saturday morning and then come home and boil up the beets. We'd eat them as soon as they were cool enough! Fond memories of a wonderful mother and healthy food! Those were simple pleasures. She passed August 1, 2010, and every time I do something she used to do with us, I honor her by remembering her to others around me! She was a evangelical Christian woman who fought to the last day of her life for people to know that Jesus Christ loves each person and died for you all! God bless you! Report
RHONDA167
I need to hurry up and get to me a farmers market. My brothers are farmers and they grow veggies, but I always have to wait until mid August before the garden is ready. Report
great idea! I need to go back to my local farmer's market ;) Report
I remember having to eat seasonally growing up since we didn't have the luxury of shipping foods from other countries. That was the way it was until about the 80's. So it's funny how now we are going back to eating that way. Report
Great ideas! I was needing some "fresh" ones! Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Liza Barnes
Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.